Katusha's rookie sensation Ben Swift admitted on Sunday night that he was "a little surprised" by his third-place finish in the Giro's second stage from Jesolo to Trieste. A pro since the start of the year, Swift is considered an all-arounder rather than a pure sprinter, but his outstanding performance this weekend comes on the back of several strong showings in bunch gallops in the first four months of the season.
"I felt the best I'd felt all day on the climb near the finish, then I was fighting for Cavendish's wheel as we came off the descent. But everyone wanted Cav's wheel; I'd be on it, then I'd lose it and finally Petacchi moved in and I had to get onto his wheel," Swift said from his team hotel in Trieste. "I lost a lot of energy in the chaos and fight for position in the last two kilometres..."
Swift said that he couldn't follow Petacchi when the LPR man launched his sprint – a hesitation which allowed Cavendish to move into the Italian's slipstream. Under threat from more experienced sprinters Allan Davis and Tyler Farrar, Swift nonetheless held on for third.
"I suppose I'm starting to re-evaluate what type of rider I am, having done well in bunch sprints this year. At the same time, though, I'm doing a lot of work on my climbing as well as my sprinting," the 21-year-old explained. "I often do five 30-second sprints, with a minute's rest in between, at the start and end of sessions training sessions."
On paper, Monday's stage, with two gnarly climbs in the final 40 kilometres, looks even better suited to Swift. As an amateur the Rotherham-born youngster often thrived on similarly undulating courses. "These guys go really hard on the climbs but, yeah, tomorrow should be even better for me," Swift commented on the 198km third stage from Grado to Valdobbiadene. "If it's all together at the end and I'm in a good position, I'll certainly give it another shot."
Just over 24 hours into his first major tour, Swift was certain of one thing: he was enjoying the Giro experience.
"I didn't really know what to expect but the whole event's definitely got a great aura. Having Lance makes it even bigger. It's a massive thing for me, who grew up watching Lance. To me, he is cycling; him being here makes it a lot more special."